Obstructive sleep apnea is, according to the National Sleep Foundation, a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least 10 seconds.
Those 10 seconds, if not longer, are the longest 10 seconds of your life.
It took us a long time to make the correlation between our obesity and Eric’s struggle with sleep apnea. Although he was never medically diagnosed, Eric would stop breathing in his sleep. As time passed and the weight increased, the sleep apnea episodes became more frequent and the “apnea” periods would last longer.
It’s sad but the truth was, we would laugh about how loud Eric would snore or how many times he would stop breathing in his sleep. We made jokes about it. Because he would wake himself up from these “apnea” episodes, we failed to see the severity of his condition. We had no idea we were dealing with something that was directly related to our obesity nor did we realize the potential danger of not consulting with a doctor.
Thinking back, there was one day in 2004 (pictured above) where Eric stopped breathing and my nudges were not waking him up. This particular “apnea” episode was much different from the others. Yet, it wasn’t until 2006, after changing our lifestyle, increasing our daily activity, and losing the weight, did Eric’s condition improve. We can tell you, 9 years later, Eric has not experienced any episodes since.
Here’s are a few important facts you need to know about sleep apnea:
• According to WebMD, more than half of people with obstructive sleep apnea are either overweight or obese.
• Anywhere from 12 to 18 million U.S. adults may have untreated obstructive sleep apnea, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
• In adults, excess weight is the STRONGEST risk factor associated with obstructive sleep apnea.
• In middle-aged adults, the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to be 4%-9%, although the condition is often undiagnosed and untreated.
• Sleep apnea also is more common in African-Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders than in whites.
Understand, obesity is just one contributing factor to sleep apnea. Other causes include enlarged tonsils or adenoids, dental conditional like an overbite, tumor or growth in airway, or other enlargements that affect the tongue or jaw.
We were very fortunate. Everyone is not so lucky.
“Increasing evidence suggests that obstructive sleep apnea is strongly associated with conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, heart attack, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, nocturnal angina, heart failure, hypothyroidism, and an abnormal heart rhythm. About half of sleep-apnea patients have hypertension, and untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart-related illness and death.” -WebMD
It’s important that we encourage our loved ones & our friends to seek medical attention if they find themselves experiencing symptoms associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is truly no laughing matter. It’s not something to take lightly.
Don’t repeat our mistake.
It’s imperative you begin making BetterChoices as it relates to your overall health & wellness. Trust us when we tell you, this journey is much bigger than weight loss. This is truly a journey about saving your own life.
As always, thank you for time, love & support. We hope what we have shared has helped you. Be sure to share this info with family & friends.
-Eric & Maleka Beal
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Eric and Maleka Beal are health coaches and co-founders of BetterChoices, a health & wellness company and social community focused on educating, advocating, and promoting better health and wellness through lifestyle, nutrition, and fitness education.